Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitudes and in actions. – Harold S. Geneen
In his book the 360° Leader, John Maxwell shares a story about President Harry S. Truman speaking at the National War College. In the speech, Truman said, “You know, it’s easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you-and on my desk I have a motto which says ‘The Buck Stops Here’- the decision has to be made.”
On another occasion, Truman said, “The president-whoever he is- has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.” For the leader, the weight of responsibility can be a heavy burden to carry. Seldom do others see behind the scenes the struggles many leaders deal with on a regular basis.
Regardless of your present station in your organizational structure, there are things you can do to lift your leader. Why is this important? When you commit yourself to lifting your leader you are creating the kind of culture within your organization that can have residual effects that ripple through your organization in a positive way. Consider these five for starters.
Lighten your leader’s load. When you lighten the load of your leader you are freeing up his or her ability to focus on larger and more consequential things for your organization. Lightening the load happens as you look past just what is good for you and look at what is good for the team. When you lighten the leader’s load you increase his capacity to grow.
Listen to your leader’s concerns. The “Buck Stops Here” responsibility weighs heavily on your leader. You can lighten a load of your leader as you listen to the verbal and pay attention to the non-verbal communications. When you know what is on the mind of your leader you can do your part to put his or her mind at ease.
Leverage your leader’s strengths. You always want your leader in a position of strength in any given situation. Leveraging the strength of your leader can also include finding creative ways of assisting in his weaker areas. When you are conscious of this it can be a real boost to your leader and can give your company extra leverage it may need. Strong leaders make for strong teams. Lift up the strengths of your leader and everyone benefits.
Learn from your leader. You can lift, encourage, and empower your leader when you commit yourself to learn from him. The investment he or she has made in you should be cause for enough consideration that they feel you have some potential. Succession in leadership is not a birthright, it’s earned. You can lift your leader by showing respect and learning from their experiences and expertise.
Laugh with your leader. Leadership is a journey filled with many surprises. It’s filled with joys and heartache and a little bit of everything else in between. Charles M. Schultz said, “If I were given the opportunity to present a gift to the next generation, it would be the ability for each individual to learn to laugh at himself.” Never underestimate the power of laughter in leadership. You can lift your leader when you laugh with your leader.
Lifting your leader is a matter of strong intuition, being a little less selfish, and realizing that one day you may be a position where you’d like to call upon these acts of kindness. When you lift your leader you are growing as a leader.